Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fleshing Out the Family Tree

Almost a year ago, after lots of research and sifting through a file of records, I wrote a blog post called The Life and Times of John Kuck which was supposed to be my final record of 3rd great grandfather. It contained the picture above, the only picture I had of either my third great grandparents John and Mary Meyer Kuck and one of a couple of their son and my 2nd great grandfather George Kuck sitting on John's lap. It was a good blog post and I still read it every now and then when I ponder about my genealogy journey thus far. It contains the best and worst of it all in one photo. The best being that I found the immigrant ancestor for my living Kuck ancestors and set the story straight. The worst being that Mary Meyer is one brick wall that I have hit repeatedly with research and have gotten no farther than her maiden name, she immigrated from Switzerland at some unknown time and that she died young with five of her children in a diphtheria epidemic in late 1878 and early 1879. Beyond that, I know nothing of her.

Over the years I have searched for Kuck descendants of John and three of his siblings who immigrated to the United States but without success. Most of the lines end abruptly due to childless deaths of unmarried descendants. A few would survive only to have no male offspring which makes tracing them with any certainty very hard. Only one of them allowed me to find the name of someone who may still be living but because she was born of an age before computers and is old enough now to avoid them altogether, I can find no trace of her. I was stuck to waiting for the 1940 census to come out, which it will sometime next year, to hopefully find more clues on possible missing distant cousins. Then out of the blue, I received an email from a distant Kuck cousin who is a descendant of John's brother Frederick and had seen my Kuck posts on a genealogy forum and asked if I knew of anyone researching this particular family. Boy did I.

We ended up emailing each other a few times setting up a visit in mid October, then a few months away, to compare notes and meet each other since she was from Tennessee and I was from Iowa. The short version of a long story was that I had lots of information on a side of the family, John, that she didn't know anything about and she had lots of pictures of a family that I had never seen outside of the picture above. It was a genealogical match made in heaven.

Above is one of the pictures in her collection of my 3rd great grandfather John Kuck and his second wife (not my 3rd great grandmother) Elizabeth Brandau. She also clued me in on a factoid that I had every opportunity to know since I had the evidence already but had never put two and two together. John Kuck's second wife Elizabeth Brandau was the younger sister of Katherine Brandau who was married to Frederick Kuck, John Kuck's younger brother. Kind of forms a big X of ages and families when traced out.

John Kuck was the original immigrant in the family and after he got himself established after thirteen years, he evidently sent for three of his siblings, Frederick, Dietrich and Anna Kuck to join him. For years I suspected they were siblings because they all resided nearby or in John's house in the census records but eventually I got proof when I made contact with a German genealogist doing a project for the church they belonged too in the old world who had lots of information on the family including the names of his siblings. John Kuck ran a harness shop for years in Charles City, Iowa and trained his two surviving sons George and Henry in it and at least one brother Frederick. George and Henry would work in it for awhile until they became of age and at that point, George traded leather for general merchandise and Henry would move out west to The Dalles, Oregon and become a saddle maker of some note whose saddles still fetch high prices on Ebay and the likes. I always assumed the saddle and harness store went with Henry but I recently learned that Frederick eventually took over the store to allow John more time to become involved in being a 'leading citizen' of the community as he is often lauded in old newspaper accounts. Frederick is seen in front of the Kuck Harness Shop below.

It did however end with Frederick's death in 1906 when a newspaper article stated that his son's Herbert and Orlando (who would both go with the last name of Cook) decided they had no interest in it and sold the business and family house before returning to their own homes in Galesburg, Illinois and Seattle, Washington respectively. On a side note, the article made mention to some 'outlaw notes that bore the Civil War stamps' found among Frederick's possession, a reference which I know nothing about and need to research. Below is another photo of the Kuck Harness Shop of the inside taken the year of Frederick's death of heart disease and the last year the shop would be in business as it turned out.

So once again, I find myself in awe at adding more old photos of my ancestors to my growing collection which started out at the round number of zero about a half dozen years ago. It is days like this that keep my hopelessly addicted to researching my family tree. I will probably add a few more posts with more photos of this branch of the family to my blog over time just so it gets chiseled into the internet stone for future researchers to stumble upon and perhaps wonder how Ed from southeast Iowa figured into all of this.


R. Sherman said...

As always, interesting stuff. Unfortunately, I don't have has many tales about my ancestors and those I have, I need to write down.


kymber said...

wow. this is so interesting. i wish i could do the same but my father came from England and never spoke about his family - we don't know the names of any of his 11 brothers and sisters. sad eh? my mother's family we can only trace to when they came to Canada as they came during WWI when many family histories were destroyed and lost.

anyway - we have jambaloney's family that we can trace back quite a ways. and his family history is full of exciting stuff as his family originated in Scotland and there are lots of docs and whatnot that are available out there.

i am glad that you have such a full family history. it is something to be proud of.

and reminds me of this quote from The Thirteenth Warrior (if you haven't seen - do so. it is an awesome movie!):

Lo there do I see my father. Lo there do I see my mother and my sisters and my brothers. Lo there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning. Lo, they do call to me, they bid me take my place among them, in the Halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live...forever.

keep posting updates about your family history - it is a very interesting read for some of us! thanks for sharing Ed!

your friend,

Ed said...

R. Sherman - For me, the writing them down has been the best part. It helps solidify that history more so than just remembering the highlights off the top of my head.

Kymber - According to my tag counter, there are 77 genealogy posts in my archives. I started writing them down for my children's children someday to discover like I did when I was bitten by the genealogy bug so many decades ago.

Eutychus2 said...

I love to hear about family; especially families from yesterday.
Get all the stories you can from the 'old timers' and keep writing them down. You'll never regret it.